Bud Baggett family is Farm Bureau’s 2019 Outstanding Farm Family

    Shelia Mader | TIMES - Pictured are Jeff Pitman, Desiree and Bud Baggett, Ken Stoutamire, Connor and Sam Baggett (front).

    It was a full house Thursday night with over 300 Farm Bureau members gathered for the annual Farm Bureau banquet. One of the highlights each year of the banquet is the recognition of the Farm Family of the year. The 2019 Farm Family of the year is Bud Baggett’s family. Bud, wife Desiree, sons Sam and Connor were all present at the head table. Daughter Grace Daffin is currently in college at FSU and could not be present.
    Bud Baggett is what many refer to as a ‘good ole boy’. Contrary to what that term means in some contexts, it means Bud is there for anyone anytime of the day or night. He’s a friend to all and an enemy to none.
    Baggett grew up farming with his grandad Ellis Baggett and his father Larry Baggett. His grandfather, Ellis Baggett purchased land in the county in 1962, and moved up from Calhoun County. He raised his son Larry to take over the farm, who passed it on to Bud. Larry and his family were recognized as the Outstanding Farm Family in 2001, so Bud carries on the family tradition of excellent farming and support of the agricultural industries in Jackson County. Unlike some young men, he never shied away from work, never was one to look to get off the farm for city life. Bud learned early the joy of working for himself. Bud is one of the most highly visible young farmers in the Marianna/Jackson County area. You might say that he showed an interest in farming early on; in fact, he practically grew up walking behind or riding the tractor with his grandfather and his dad on the same land where he still lives and farms. Bud will tell you quickly that farming is and always has been the life for him. Baggett Farms has nine full time employees in addition to Larry and Bud. They grow peanuts, cotton, cattle, and oats for seed on over 5500 acres. The physical and mental demands of farming keep him and his employees more than busy.
    Bud gives much credit for his ability to farm to his grandfather, Ellis Baggett, and his dad, Larry Baggett. During the past years, the three men have done a lot work together; however, Bud and his dad now farm under separate entities. The young farmer has many compliments to give about his family, “I learned so much from them; especially, I learned to love and respect nature and the joy of being able to work outside, be my own boss.” He says it is rewarding to watch something grow and to harvest the results of your efforts. You get to do it yourself from start to finish. Baggett says, “Sure, it can be hard work with more work than hours in a day. Still, I know it is the career for me because there is just something about the process of planning, preparing the soil, planting, caring for the crops, and harvesting.” He says the managerial parts of farming can get next to you when there is so much you don’t feel you can control; finances are challenging because you want to spend wisely and always be calculating toward making a profit.
    In making the presentation to the Baggett Family, County Extension Agent Doug Mayo said, “People in the county responded to this tragedy in various ways, but Bud Baggett was one of the farmers who made a real difference by leading the charge to get financial help for the farming community. He made at least six trips to Tallahassee to speak with the Senate Ag Committee, as well as individual representatives. Bud was a spokesman for the farming community sharing both his story and those of his neighbors, so they understood the enormous challenge faced by area farmers. He and his wife Desiree hosted three different tour groups of decision-makers at his farm, so they could see first-hand the level of devastation and the size of the challenge farmers in this area faced to recover. Bud knew that with the lost income, and overwhelming damage, farmers need help to get ready to farm again this year. That was the only hope to begin to dig out of this huge hole. Through his efforts and others working through Farm Bureau and other farm organizations, Governor DeSantis did listen and created the “Bridge Loan Program” to provide two-year 0 interest loans to fill the gap before federal aid becomes available. Because of Bud’s efforts more than 70 crop farmers were able to borrow almost 13 million dollars to help them recover and get the financing needed to farm again this year. The feeling in Tallahassee was that assisting farmers with recovery was the role of the federal government, but Bud and other local leaders made sure they understood that farmers could not wait and needed help right away.
    When asked about the future of Baggett Farms Bud replied, “I just hope to fully recover from the storm. Right now, we are just trying to get back on track and back to normal.” He said that even before the storm farming has been a constant struggle with so many variables, such as weather, commodity markets, rising expenses, and razor thin margins. The only answer is to further diversify and utilize precision technology to maximize efficiency to be able to survive on small margins. To do this he hopes to convert some of the best land that had been in timber to pasture and increase his cowherd to around 300 head, and only replant timber on his marginal land.”
    Bud and his wife Desiree have been married for nine years. They have three children Grace Daffin, age 20, Sam Baggett, age 12, and Connor Baggett, age eight. Desiree owns A Wild Hair Salon in Marianna, but also helps Bud on the farm by keeping the books, paying bills and farm records. Bud Baggett is also the owner of the Crosshairs Gun Shop located behind A Wild Hair that specializes in custom guns for concealed carry.
    Bud and Desiree were honored to be named the Farm Family of the Year, “It is quite an honor. There are not many young folks farming these days, so I truly appreciate this recognition.” Bud also said, “I am very thankful for my Dad. We work great together, and I would not be here without him.”
    A graduate of Marianna High School, Bud was a very good student and a student athlete. Certainly, he could have chosen any career but he contends that “farming chose him.”
    Bud spends time with his family and he fully supports their activities from the fields at Optimist Park to the sidelines at Mariana High School. The family can often be seen all together at school or sports events or even at the salon (A Wild Hair) or Bud’s newest venture, Crosshairs. Bud has always had an interest in guns and weapons so it is fitting that he would own and operate a gun shop.
    Despite the challenges that he faces with so much depending on circumstances like the weather that are beyond his control, Bud says that “The Lord has been good to us; it’s been a good life. I enjoy what I do. It helps a ton that my family fully supports me in it and knows there are times when their time with me is limited because of the long hours during planting and harvesting.” He has high praise for his hard- working dad saying he couldn’t have done it without him, “Dad has been my teacher and we work well together. I have read that if a person chooses to do something he really likes, he never has to work a day. Farming is all that I ever have wanted to do. That and my family is the perfect life for me.”
    Congratulations to Bud, Desiree, Grace, Sam and Connor on being recognized as the Farm Family for 2019 from the publisher and staff of the Jackson County Times.


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